News Herald – Juliann Talkington
Even though there is a lot of discussion about diversity and open mindedness, the U.S. has become a very closed-minded place to raise children.
Government agencies decide how children should be educated, psychology “experts” provide guidelines on how parents should interact with their children, law enforcement agencies force parents to follow the advice of the “experts”, and lawyers sue when kids are kids. With all this regulation, advice, policing, and legal intervention, one would think U.S. kids would be well educated and socially adept.
Just the opposite is true. U.S. children rank poorly in international academic comparisons. More than 50% of the U.S. college graduates are out of work or are underemployed. In addition, the U.S. spends over $100 billion on mental health annually and has the third highest incarceration rate in the world.
International comparisons provide some perspective.
In Vietnam, most children are potty trained by the time they are nine months old, something many U.S. psychologists suggest causes long term issues for children. Interestingly, most Vietnamese children go on to become happy, well adjusted adults.
In Japan, it is not uncommon to see six and seven year old kids riding the subway alone. Not only is this unheard of in the U.S., but would likely lead to a visit from Child Protective Services.
In Germany, it is common to see 4 and 5 year old children working with knives and other sharp instruments. Yet, in the U.S. children are not allowed to pick up a stick at school for fear that they will injure someone. And parents demand suspensions and threaten lawsuits when a student pinches or pokes another student.
A review of child rearing in the U.S. in the middle of the 20th Century provides some insight into the problem.
At that time, there was less government intervention. Local school districts had more control over curriculum and discipline. Teachers had better subject area preparation and lawsuits against school districts were uncommon.
There were no government agencies overseeing child rearing and few psychologists second-guessing what might be best for a child. Also, kids had the freedom to be kids. There were fights in the parking lot, scraped knees on the playground, and tears about “mean” comments. Families figured out how to interact and solve problems. Most people were employed. Few people had mental health issues and stints in prison were uncommon.
It appears that we need less government intervention, less expert advice, less enforcement, and more common sense.